Friday, April 24, 2009

End of Maai-Baap Raj

There’s a very bad news for most of the political parties in India because the Maai-Baap Raj is coming to an end.

Political parties has thrived on the security of the millions of helpless destitute people who treat the political class with reverence as their Maai-Baap. These poor helpless people are given the false impression that their politicians are their only hope for survival. But the sad part is that, despite being fooled for more than half a century, these poor illiterate people haven’t yet come to understand this deceit in totality. The very politicians whom they consider their Maai-Baap did almost nothing to improve their conditions. In fact all attempts were made to keep them destitute and illiterate as long as possible because only then they would be helpless and nurture the hope of getting help from the political class. The moment they find out that they have been cheated for so long that will be the end for many parties. The moment they see development they will get rid of their false hope and dependence on the political class.

Let’s see what happened in West Bengal over the past thirty years. CPM came to power as the messiah of the land less and poor and destitute people of Bengal. Already the socio economic conditions in Bengal were shattering since independence due to the huge influx of migrants from Bangladesh. After the Bangladeshi independence in 1971 there was the second round of migration into West Bengal. Unlike Punjab, which was also affected by the partition of India, majority of the people who moved into India from Bangladesh were very poor. Despite serious and honest efforts by the first CM of Bengal, Dr. B C Roy, the conditions of millions of people, especially the refugees, in Bengal didn’t improve much even till the seventies – when finally the CPM came with the hope of change. CPM is credited with pioneering land reforms in India. Yes, they did snatch away lands from the landlords, often brutally and illegally, but they took very little care in formally distributing the land among the people. Once the landlords were driven out the people hailed CPM as their messiah. Under the surveillance of the party dadas millions of people, many of them from Bangladesh, got lands to farm and thus got means for survival. But that was the end. No one understood that during the same period of time the farmers in Punjab became so prosperous but they remained always poor – depending on the local party dadas for almost everything. Nothing was available to them without the intervention of the party. They remained destitute and poor forever and kept on considering CPM their Maai-Baap till finally the events at Singur and Nandigram happened in Bengal. One fine day they lost their land. As they never owned the lands and were just allowed to farm illegally some thirty years back by the local CPM dada, they were not entitled to get the compensation for the loss of land. So finally the entire village went against the same dadas whom they used to consider their Maai-Baap. So came the end of the Maai-Baap Raj in several parts of Bengal and in the subsequent Panchayat election Mamta Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress made a killing in those places. Presently many such Nandigrams and Singurs are in the making in Bengal.

Same is true elsewhere also. People are finally awakening with the rude shock that they have been cheated for decades.

During my recent vacation in Uttarakhand I happened to interact with a number of local people in Delhi, UP and Uttarakhand. Most of these people are drivers or daily wage workers. I was really surprised to find that one of the drivers understands the necessity of good education above everything else. He knows that in order to raise his social status he has to see development and that can come only with good education. He even knows of civil services, NDA and many other exams that are the gateways to prosperity. He didn’t bother to bribe a clerk of a public school in Delhi to get his kids admitted.  His views and ideas are not isolated instances. I heard similar things from across the spectrum of people who are at the base of the pyramid. So it’s clear that this huge chunk of population is gradually drifting apart from just attending rallies of political parties and waiting in despair hopelessly for their Maai-Baap politicians to do something. They know that they have to progress in lives.  The moment they appreciate education they will become more and more aware and enlightened. And that’s really bad news for most of the political parties who have survived on the lack of awareness and illiteracy of the people.

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